Many of our clients like to get to know the people they talk with on the phone or who travel to their site to service their generators. We wanted to make that a little easier for our generator service customers in Central Valley California towns like Modesto, Stockton, and Fresno. Meet Jeff Zimmerman.
As Northern California’s largest independent generator service company, we pride ourselves on having the people and equipment available to meet just about any need for backup power. For example, we can offer 24/7/365 emergency support by one of our trained staff (not an answering service) because we not only have dedicated experts (which we do!) but we have enough of them on staff to share in the workload. We wouldn’t have gotten voted one of the best places to work in the Bay Area two years in a row if we didn’t help our employees balance their work lives with their home lives, right?
Because we are in the U.S. state that many see as the leader in environmental protection and sustainability, it’s no wonder that we have customers curious about using biodiesel in their portable backup generators and stationary backup generators.
What to Consider When Using Biodiesel in Your Generator
Warranty and Support. As with just about any piece of equipment, it’s important to recognize that the manufacturer will recommend specific operating conditions and maintenance procedures. Using the equipment in a way that is outside of those recommendations may void your warranty or at least make it more complicated for the manufacturer (or factory-trained service partners like CD & Power) to provide you with support. We recommend reviewing warranty documentation and checking with the manufacturer if possible. [Read more…]
Determining the right time to replace a generator can be a daunting task. A standby generator is one of those pieces of a business that feels useless. Kind of like a Contingency Plan. Until of course the power is out and it is the lifeline to keeping your business functioning or providing critical life safety functions. At CD & Power we are committed to helping you make the most informed decision for your particular requirements.
The first step is evaluating your current system. Trying to come to a consensus on the life of a generator/engine can be a real crap shoot. You can scour the internet and get a lot of different opinions. Here are a couple:
- Engine life for liquid-cooled 1800rpm engines can approach 20,000 hours if properly serviced depending on the application and environment
- Even 3600rpm diesel engines normally have a 10,000 to 12,000 hour life expectancy with proper maintenance and service.
- Diesel engines have a distinct advantage in longevity over their gasoline counterparts. Mechanical parts wear out over time due to the friction caused by parts rubbing together. Diesel engines, however, are engineered and built to be more robust due to the higher compression ratio in the combustion chamber and the high torque output they produce. Diesel engines also operate at lower speeds (rpm) than gasoline engines, which means the bearings, piston rings, cylinder walls, valve train, etc., don’t rub together as often. Engine speeds are often half that of a gasoline engine.
Having a permanent stationery generator installed at your home used to be a simple matter some ten years ago, but now California cities have adopted the full requirements of the National Fire Protection Association, standard 110 and the rules, regulations, and costs are quite extensive. People who have large parcels of land will have an easier time complying with the rules and regulations, because setback rules and noise ordinances can be a problem if your neighbor is close by.
If a residential generator is one of your priorities, here are some of the requirements you should consider before calling out a generator company, like CD & Power.
Determine the Size You Need
The first step is to determine the size generator you need to run the critical functions of your home. This is a process of deciding which of the items in your home you would like the new generator to run during a utility outage. Some people want everything to be up and running, and others want just critical items like HVAC and the refrigerator. Check the owner’s manual for the items you want to power and add up the power level that each one requires. That will give you an idea of the size of the generator you need. Use this Generator-Sizing-Chart as a reference.
Placement & Noise
Next, you should consider where the generator will be placed. Some cities require the generator to be out of sight, or in an enclosed space. Most of the time, it will require a setback of at least 5 feet from the property line, and a concrete pad with electrical wiring and hook-ups for the generator and transfer switch. Noise ordinances allow for a maximum sound level of 45dB at your neighbor’s property line. With large generators in residential subdivisions, noise is a limiting factor.
If the generator you need is 50 horsepower or greater, you will need to apply for a permit from your local Air Quality District. There are 35 AQDs in California. Find yours here: Map of California Air Quality Boards
Natural Gas or Propane?
You should also consider the fuel source for your generator. If it will be natural gas, you’ll need plumbing; and if it is propane, you should think about where the tank will be located.
Next you will need several engineering drawings to submit to the city planning and building departments. The engineering drawings will show property lines, the location of the generator in relation to your home and adjacent buildings, clearance around the unit and from windows and combustibles, installation plans, fueling exhaust systems, and electrical single line diagrams for the generator and transfer switch along with the electrical connections to the main circuit breaker in your home. The city will also need information about the location of your home. Is it near a school, hospital, or operation where exhaust and/or noise will affect children or a large population?
Once your engineering drawings are complete, you are ready to apply for permits. You will need a Building Permit, a Fire Permit, and an Electrical Permit. Each of these has associated fees, and may be denied, granted, or granted with conditions.
Time to Buy the Generator!
When you have approved permits, it’s time to buy your generator and transfer switch; and then hire an electrician and concrete company to install the pad. Generator installation comes next followed by a final inspection by the city and the fire department before you can start it up. The last step is to fuel the generator.
CD & Power Will Manage the Process
The process will take between two and three months to complete. CD & Power can help you manage the process – from helping you determine the right size generator to suit your needs, to finding a certified engineer to make the drawings. We manage the city permit process and work with electrical, plumbing and concrete contractors, inspectors, procure the generator and switch, and manage the installation.
Usually, the minimum cost for a residential stationery generator starts between $10,000 and $20,000 and includes the generator, transfer switch, concrete pad, electrical work and installation. Permits and fees vary city by city. Some cities, like Berkeley, Tiburon, and Mill Valley have more stringent guidelines and have special requirements that may add to the cost.
Although she’s not in California, Martha Stewart installed a generator for her estate in New York. It’s kind of fun to watch the process.
CD & Power has installed generators for commercial and residential customers since 1985. We also offer generator maintenance and repair service, fueling, and compliance services throughout Northern California. We are a family-owned and operated, certified woman-owned business headquartered in Martinez. For additional information, please give us a call at 866-468-7697.
The purpose of most generator sets is to provide a trustworthy source of power for your facility or business during an emergency situation when the power is out or not available for some reason. In the event of a power failure, there should be no doubt that your backup power source will kick into action and get you back up and running. But what happens when the power goes out and your genset does not operate the way it is supposed to? The results can often be costly and sometimes disastrous.
This is the reason why generator load bank testing should be a crucial part of your generator maintenance plan — and this testing should ideally be done each and every year. Load bank testing ensures that your generator will be:
- dependable and operational when the power is needed
- capable of generating the highest possible load required at any crucial point or time
What is Load Bank Testing?
A generator load bank test involves an inspection and evaluation of a generator set. It makes sure that all primary components of the generator set are in proper working order. To conduct a load bank test, artificial loads are put on the generator by bringing the engine to the recommended operating temperature and pressure levels. This is especially important for emergency generator sets that do not run very often and may not be exposed to carrying heavy loads on a regular basis. The general rule is if your generator is not exposed to more than 30% of its rated kilowatt load, you should have the generator load tested.
A load bank test ensures that your generator will run when needed so that you can count on it producing power during any kind of emergency that may arise. A proper load bank test will give you an evaluation of your generator at its full kilowatt output rating. Many generators don’t regularly operate at their full kilowatt rating. It’s very important that the generator produce the horsepower that’s required for it to run flawlessly when that power is needed, while maintaining the right temperature and pressure levels and allowing it to run for long periods of time.
What is Done During a Load Bank Test?
When a load bank test is started, an artificial load is placed on the generator. The test is timed and the kilowatt load is gradually increased in specified increments. Every time the load is increased, critical engine functions are measured at the highest possible levels for a sustained period of time. To complete the test, a load bank is needed (a machine with kilowatt rated sizes and battery type cables).
When a diesel powered generator is not used very often or is only run on light loads, it can experience unburned fuel and soot buildup in the exhaust system. This is called “wet-stacking.” Wet-stacking usually happens when the genset is not performing the way it’s supposed to. This may lead to damage or become a fire hazard and can even lead to the generator not working at all. During a load bank test, the generator is run at full operating power and temperature. This will cause any wet-stacking to burn off. Load bank testing actually serves two main purposes:
- It tests the generator to determine if functions properly and efficiently when needed.
- It removes any built-up carbon within the generator.
Advantages of Load Bank Testing
There are many reasons why gensets should undergo a load bank test on an annual basis, including:
• Confirming the gensets output capabilities as opposed to just starting it up on occasion.
• Finding problems now, instead of when an emergency arises, can be a major cost savings and prevent future breakdowns.
• Helps to avoid wet-stacking and cleans out any carbon deposits.
• Confirms that the engine cooling system will work efficiently under load.
• Makes sure that the genset will work properly when needed.
Load bank reports should include:
• AC Voltage
• Oil Pressure
• Amperage Rating
• Voltage Tested
• Any Additional Concerns or comments
If you have questions about generator maintenance or load bank testing, contact CD & Power today at 1-866-468-7697 and let us help you keep your generator running in tip top condition. A winning combination of an empowered team that loves what they do, working towards one goal. We are CD & Power, “Powering Your Success” for 30 years and for many more to come.
Only a few years ago, traditional logic for generator sets (gensets) held that:
- Diesel generators = reliable and inexpensive but also noisy, loud and messy.
- Natural gas generators = expensive and temperamental but also quieter and cleaner.
Diesel fuel is the traditional choice for commercial and industrial standby power, but is by no means the only choice. In the past, gaseous fuels have been avoided in industrial applications based upon cost, power density and perception of durability and fuel reliability. That is no longer the case. Today, thanks to the development of new technologies in engines, enclosures and other components, the differences between diesel and natural gas generators is no longer so clearly defined.
Natural Gas Generators
An efficient means of power generation is by using a natural gas generator. It can be used to power emergency and portable generators and is considered to be one of the least expensive and one of the most adequate forms of fuels among the fossil fuel family for generating power. In terms of price, coal is the only fuel that is less expensive. One of the biggest draw backs of using coal is that it’s a very dirty source of fuel.
Natural gas is typically acquired by drilling, the same process as is done for oil. Natural gas in liquid form is taken to various holding facilities where it is converted into its gas state. Then, is made available through pipelines and it can also be purchased in cylinders.
A natural gas generator works pretty much the same as other generators. Usually the only difference between generators is the fuel used to power them. In this instance, the source of fuel to start the generator is natural gas. These types of generators are predominately used in large metropolitan areas where fuel supply is available through a pipeline fuel delivery system.
Advantages of Using Natural Gas
- The most favorable uses of natural gas as a fuel is that it is a cleaner energy source, less expensive than other fossil fuels, and is substantially efficient.
- Comparing natural gas to oil and coal, the amounts of sulfur, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas) are considerably lower. Making natural gas one of the cleanest fossil fuels to burn.
- Natural gas does not produce a strong odor, which is common with generators powered by oil or diesel fuels.
- Natural gas generators are effective in reducing costs when used to power homes because electricity from utility companies tends to be more expensive.
- Aside from being cleaner burning and cheaper to buy, natural gas is also handy in large cities because it is delivered directly through underground pipelines to the source where it is needed. For this reason, when using natural gas powered generators, there is no need in having fuel storage tanks.
Aside from its evident advantages, natural gas generators also have some negatives to them.
Disadvantages of Using Natural Gas
- One of its advantages can also be regarded as a disadvantage. Since natural gas does not need to be stored, as it is usually supplied through pipelines to the site of the business or company, during times of a disaster or accident, the flow of natural gas may be temporarily interrupted. Finding yourself with a lack of fuel when you need power to operate your equipment during an outage and when the regular supply of electrical power is down, can be a major concern for keeping your business running, until that power is restored.
- Natural gas can be extremely explosive and can be a grave fire hazard should something happen to the pipeline.
Compared to diesel generators, natural gas generators:
- Cost more to run.
- Discharge more greenhouse gases into the air.
- Also, natural gas is a non-renewable fuel supply.
These kinds of generators can usually be divided into two primary parts: a diesel engine and an electrical generator. Diesel generator sets are mainly used to provide power to places that are not on a power utility grid or as a backup source in case there is some kind of power outage or failure. Ships and large boats use diesel generators for all of their power and propulsion needs when they are on the water.
Diesel generators are common for back-up emergency power. They are available in both single and three-phase, diesel generators can be used not only in medium to large businesses, but also for homes and small offices.
Advantages of Using Diesel
• Fuel efficiency: When it comes to making a choice on which fuel to use, price is usually the number one factor. With the ever increasing demand and decreasing supply, when it comes to choosing which fuel to use, there will always be some kind of debate on why one is used over the other. One of the most important keys is finding a fuel source that saves on both energy use and operating costs. Diesel generators score high on both of these points. While they are substantially more expensive than natural gas generators, also the price of diesel fuel is often more than gas, you can get a larger volume of energy out of diesel fuel. You may pay more for diesel fuel, but the tradeoff is getting more usable power out of the diesel than you would for the same amount of any other gas. Fuel efficiency is the number one advantage for using a diesel generator.
• Stability: Another huge benefit for using a diesel generator is the guaranty of a stable power source. In large institutions, such as hospitals, this plays a huge role because most of the machines and devices used in them require electrical power to be on 24 hours a day, seven days a week and once the power goes out for some kind of stoppage or disaster, it could mean the difference between life and death during a surgery or even keeping some kind of life-saving machine going until the main power comes back on.
• In comparing a natural gas powered generator, the diesel generator is far more efficient for several reasons such as:
- Diesel engines used today are far improved versions of older models that were extremely noisy and took a lot more time to maintain.
- Diesel engines are more heavy duty and dependable.
- Another advantage diesel has over natural gas engines is that they do not use spark plugs or wires; helping on repair and maintenance savings.
- The life expectancy of a natural gas engine is not as long as that of a diesel equivalent.
- Being less flammable than other types of fuels, diesel generators score high on being safer to use. They don’t use spark plugs or wires, which eliminates the chance of a spark causing a fire.
Disadvantages of Using Diesel
A diesel generator can be more expensive to purchase compared to other types. But, since the upkeep of a diesel generator can be quite a bit lower, it more than makes up for it after the generator is initially purchased.
Noise is a big issue with a diesel type of generator. While newer models are getting quieter, the older versions can still be a bit noisy. Diesel generators that are used in and around larger populations may also be too noisy for residents around the vicinity of these units.
Diesel generators are large and cumbersome and have large mechanical and electrical systems that are part of the unit. As opposed to smaller and lighter generators, diesel generators are usually not very portable and user friendly.
Given the recent trend of cleaner energy fuels and less greenhouse gases, diesel is considered a major cause of heavy pollution in most major cities and towns where it is used.
When it comes time to choose between a diesel or a natural gas generator, you’ll need to answer a few important questions:
- How will your generator be used (for main or emergency power)?
- What kind of budget do you have for the purchase and maintenance required for your next generator?
Both natural gas and diesel generators have their advantages and disadvantages. With the arrival of newly developed fuel sources, such as biodiesel, these new fuels are getting less harmful on the environment and air quality, more efficient in the way these new energy sources are burned to create the power needed, and saving you on the future costs of running/maintaining these new units.
If you would like help selecting the right generator for your next job, feel free to contact us today at 1-866-468-7697 and we can help you choose a generator that fits your needs. A winning combination of an empowered team that loves what they do, working towards one goal. We are CD & Power, “Powering Your Success” for 30 years and for many more to come.
Finding the right generator to manage your power needs is one of the top priorities in choosing a generator to rent or purchase. Whether it’s for primary or standby power, if your new generator can’t meet your specific needs, you should rethink it. It can put a lot of stress on the unit and it can even damage the pieces of equipment that are connected to it. Determining exactly what size of generator to get can be a difficult task and involves a number of elements and considerations.
Making a choice, whether it’s a single phase, three phase, kW, KVA, standby or motor starting generator can be overwhelming. This article will help you get an idea of how the sizing process works and some important things to consider before making an equipment purchase. This article is not a substitute for the knowledge a certified electrician could give you, but it should give you a good start and a better understanding of some of the key issues that are involved in determining the right power generator for you or your company’s needs.
Generator Sizes: Generators are available in a wide range of sizes and configurations. Generators with power supply capacities of 5kW to 50kW are available for personal and home use. Industrial generators for businesses and large companies, are available anywhere from 50kW to over 3 Megawatts. Portable generators are available for homes, RVs and for small office spaces. Large businesses, call or computer processing centers, power plants, and other industrial applications need to use much greater sized industrial generators to meet their high power needs.
Power — What size Generator Do I Need?: Many believe smaller generators can be used for standby electric power because they are only running when needed. This is a myth, not having the right power capacity can actually be very damaging and harmful to the uneducated user. Unfortunately, under sizing of a generator is one of the most common mistakes made. Not only does it involve the risks of damaging your new generator, but it can damage the equipment connected to it, create dangerous situations, and even limit overall use, longevity and reliability of the generator for the business depending on it for power.
- Make a list of the items that we be powered by the generator.
- Make a note of the starting and running wattage of each piece of equipment.
- Calculate the total power requirements in KVA or KW.
Converting Amperes to Watts: You often find power requirements of tools stated in amperes. In order to convert the power requirement of a tool from ampere to watts, follow these calculations:
For resistive load: Wattage = amperes x volts
For reactive load: Wattage = (amperes x volts) x load factor
Power Requirement Charting: Many times, the owner’s manual or the power requirement specs of the tools and devices you’re running can not be found or are lost. Starting and running wattages differ on each piece of equipment, and each device has its own consumption needs. Questions regarding any particular item usually can be answered by contacting the manufacturer either by phone or even by going to the company’s website, consulting an electrician, using this sizing chart, or by contacting us and we will be glad to help you in any way we can.
Different ways of Calculating: Depending on the type of equipment and the way the generator is going to be utilized, there are a few different ways of coming up with the power requirements:
– One motor running.
– Multiple motors running at the same time.
– No electric motors.
Benefits of selecting the right generator: Now that you have some knowledge on how to choose the correct size of generator to suit you or your company’s needs, here are just a few of the advantages of going through that process:
– No unexpected system downtime or failures.
– No shutdowns due to overload.
– Guaranteed to perform the way you want it to when you want it to.
– Less maintenance means more money savings on upkeep.
– Increased life of the generator.
– Higher amount of personal safety.
– A smaller chance of damage to equipment and property.
Where to Buy, Rent Or Service Your Generator: You are not only purchasing a major company asset, but most likely an item you will need to rely on for primary or emergency power at some point and time in the future, possibly in a crisis situation, deciding where to make that purchase is also a key consideration not to be overlooked. The seller’s years of experience play a major part in choosing who you are going to use in future for services and sales.
There are many definitions of “Great Service“. At CD & Power we are committed to the following principles that we believe add up to providing “Great Service” to our customers:
- We will always have a person answer the phone during office hours. We believe it is impossible for a machine to understand your problem.
- We will give you the option of taking a message or leaving a message on the person’s voicemail if they are not available.
- We will take responsibility for our actions, both good and bad.
- We will remember that your problems are our business.
- We will give you the opportunity to take your comments, both good and bad, to a higher level.
- We will be diligent in resolving your problem.
- We will continually train our personnel.
There are numerous considerations to take into account when selecting the right generator for your next job. If you would like more suggestions and recommendations, contact us today at 1-866-468-7697 and let us help you make the decision. A winning combination of an empowered team that loves what they do, working towards one goal. We are CD & Power, “Powering Your Success” for over 30 years and for many more to come.
A beautiful Northern California hotel was the site of CD & Power’s most recent generator replacement project. An obsolete 10kw generator circa 1980 was replaced with a brand new compliant 2015 Tier 4 25kw Kohler generator in an efficient two day operation. A three man team disassembled the old gen end and engine put the generator on casters and rolled it out through the lobby and into the truck. The new one came in the same way and was reassembled in the same place as the original. Hook up and testing were completed on day two.
As Northern California braces itself for the big storm on the horizon this week, the generator team at CD & Power is getting ready for emergency service.
It’s almost like Santa’s workshop around here, with the generator elves busy double checking each of the 100 rental generators in the fleet and making sure they are all ready for service. (Remember, if the power goes off at your workplace, you can call 24 hours a day and help will be on the way.)
In the spirit of advance preparation, here is a check list you can to use to make sure your generator is functional when you need it.
- Check your fuel level and top it off if its low
- Make sure there is enough oil and coolant
- Use a battery tester to make sure your battery is putting out adequate voltage
- Start the generator and run it through a maintenance cycle
- Do a live transfer test by opening the main breaker
- Clear any debris in the radiator and inside the generator enclosure. There should also be no debris inside the electrical room!
- Make sure that the exhaust outlet is not near anything flammable
- Jot down the phone number of CD & Power just in case you need help, 1-925-229-2700.
If you have a critical facility that does not have a back-up generator, it’s a good idea to give Lisa Galleano a call at 925-229-2700 extension 111. She will help you determine the size generator you’ll need, so all of your Christmas activities can continue uninterrupted, regardless of the weather coming our way from the North Pole.